It’s a long way from New Zealand to Jamaica, but the distance hasn’t stopped an alliance between two reggae musicians.
Te Mata record label Red Robin Records announced its very first full-length LP – showcasing the unique Waterhouse-style vocals of veteran reggae artist Winston ‘Midnight Riders’ Powell and the digital reckonings of Tom Langford, aka Naram.
Dubbed Midnight Riders Meets the Naram Rhythm Section, the album is the culmination of nearly five years work – and two trips to Jamaica.
Released in August, it celebrates the full breadth of 80s reggae culture – with ten tracks running from classic roots to hardcore rub-a-dub to obscure digital, it is already hitting the right chords with hardcore reggae fans in Europe.
Te Mata local and Red Robin executive producer Michael Robins says Midnight Riders Meets the Naram Rhythm Section is their first foray into releasing digitally with platforms like Spotify and so far, they are pleased with how it’s tracking.
“In the past we’ve exceeded a thousand 12″ vinyl sales per release, which in this modern era is almost unheard of. Until this record, we’ve had almost zero digital presence.”
Having a digital presence also puts them in the spotlight for potential NZ On Air funding.
With the rhythms all played, recorded and mixed by Naram in Whanganui, Midnight Riders added his vocals and lyrics from Jamaica and Michael headed all the business negotiations for the album from Te Mata.
Michael says they were keen to work with Winston ‘Midhnight Rider’ whose epic catalogue of over 30 singles were almost all stand-out 80s songs.
“His lyrics from the 80s were often street level lyrics which we wanted to replicate in the modern era,” he said.
Buddies since their days at Wellington College, Michael and Naram have collaborated on many projects over the years, including the Ruapuke Roots Festival.
They’ve also worked with other music legends including pioneering Jamaican vocalist Sister Nancy who had sell-out performance at the 2017 Ruapuke Roots Festival Warm-up show at Raglan’s Yot Club.
Although touring for the album is out of the question with COVID-19 still throwing up all sorts of uncertainties, Michael is pleased with how well it has been received overseas with 500 vinyl LPs sold out worldwide in the first week and another batch of 500 due to land within weeks
“The European hardcore reggae scene is saying this is an album they haven’t heard for so long, ABC Australia had it as their album of the week and there was a write up in the Jamaican Observer as well,” Michael says.
A compelling tribute to a classic period of reggae history, Midnight Riders Meets the Naram Rhythm Section is a must have for any serious collector.
Check out the digital platforms at smarturl.it/midnightridersXnaram.
To purchase the vinyl and for further label information visit redrobinrecords.bandcamp.com.